Showbread rawks loud & long, and reviewer Jamie Rake reports on all its aspects.
Crossroads Christian Reformed Church
It's not within my regular routine to attend concerts by bands with whose work I'm nigh wholly unfamiliar, but a number of factors conspired to attend a show by stylistically protean, currently more-or-less post-hardcore dudes Showbread. A good friend with whom I've in common an enjoyment of former third wave ska'sters Five Iron Frenzy (whose Reese Roper appeared on at least one Showbread album, hence said friend's initial attraction, I believe) wanted to go and was OK with driving us. The date was at the church where another good friend of mine is youth pastor. It was a free-will offering deal where I needn't contact a publicist to get in free to review it for this esteemed ezine.
My familiarity with the band extended to having seen one of its music videos, back when they were signed to Tooth & Nail Records, on some block of vids on TBN's teen-cebtric cable outlet, JC-TV and the excoriating of them by Crosstalk radio hostess Ingrid Schlueter, who I find to usually be right on by me (and right on by historically orthodox biblical exegesis, too). I would later discover that she was apparently appalled at the band's stage use of elements picked up from their appreciation for '80s classic campy horror classic The Evil Dead II and their incorporation of elements of it into their aesthetic for a time. I enjoy that flick as well-saw it on the big screen in its original theatrical run with friends with whom we all had a good ole time of uproarious hilarity in fact-but it might be that incorporating gore such as that expressed therein should follow the advice of the editor with whom I shared a room my one time at the Gospel Music Association convention after he saw some fellow GMA attendees imbibing booze at the hotel bar. It's permissible, yes, but perhaps best left done in one's personal space and not publically.
Anyway, I saw some of the band's more current, post T&N music videography and got an earful of some of their tuneage before my friend in his van came to pick me up. I liked what I heard and saw well enough, though it's certainly heaver and harder than much of what I take in musically, especially Christian-wise, lately. On the ride to my other friend's church, my ears were further filled with their latest and eleventh longplayer, Who Can Know It?, the purchase of the deluxe, DVD-inclusive version of which was one of my driving friend's motivations for wanting to make the trek to the show. So far, so good.
Per usual form, getting to the venue (if that's not too defaming a designation for a church?) found me probably the oldest attendee awaiting the doors' opening amidst a sea of teens and collegians. I am used to that solitary feeling, about which I no longer give a rip. My friend, about 15 years my junior, was likely the second oldest in the building who didn't bring a son, daughter, niece nor nephew to the show apart from my youth pastor friend. Since Christian rock, even on the indie level, seems terminally marketed to the demographic segment among whom we were in the minority, I suggested my pal with the van get used to the feeling I've come to know for some years. At least until his own kids are old enough to accompany him to concerts, that is.
Anyway, the doors opened on time, and in anticipation of an evening of what the band themselves call raw rock, we were greeted with...A FULL HALF-HOUR of an instrumental loop from some number from their latest disc overlaid with vocal snippets of pro-peace/anti-war commentary. Uh, OK... If I were the sarcastic type, I'd thank the Showbread'ers for taking that much of my life that I can't get back. Following that experiment in semi-musique concrete, we all were treated/subjected to a film of snippets of similar sentiments as those we just heard for the previous 30 minutes. Hey, am I right to sense a theme at this point?
Then, in matching shorts and T-shirts emblazoned with their ironically jokey anti-music logo and eye make-up that gave them the look of a heroin chic football team (huh?!), on they came. And they rocked rawly for a solid 13 songs or so. The first few sounded generic and blurry to me at first, but as time wore on, melodies and grooves became apparent. I got to liking 'em, though I was glad to have had the foresight to have brought earplugs, what with being near the lip of the platform (churches shouldn't have "stages," and they were playing in the sanctuary), as was my companion for offering him a pair as well.
Showbread's set concluded musically with a couple of worship choruses that brought their raucous throng into a more peaceful, arm-waving unity. But they didn't end conclusively there. No, lead singer Josh Dies followed up on the introductory pre-'cert audio and vid' with a spiel on Christians being exemplars of peace.
That's fine insofar as it neither makes excuse for sin nor obscures realpoklitik. When Dies spoke of "our gay and Muslim brothers and sisters" as being people whom the arrogant expression of Christianity could offend, I hope he meant them to be our (Christians') siblings in the broad sense of being fellow human beings because without Jesus Christ acknowledged as lord and savior in their lives, they can't be believers' spiritual kin.
As for the band's pacifism, I can empathize insofar as my own previous naiveté. However, if one realizes that the "kill" is more accurately rendered "murder" in the Decalogue and Jesus' personal (not corporate and certainly not governmental) command to turn the other cheek doesn't negate the legitimate role for physical force, sometimes unto death, for civil authorities as described in Romans 13,which, in part affirms the value of human life that culminates in the use of the death penalty for murders (not merely killers; just war theory is pretty well grounded in scripture) in Genesis 6.
As for Islam, a good reading of an authoritative trsanslation of the Koran (I highly recommend Usama Dakdok's, which I will review here soon) should reveal the netherworldly origins and dictates of that religious/political/military system that, in adherence to its scriptures and "prophet," seeks violent, subjugatory world domination. 'Nuff said? Methiknks so.
Were it not about an hour's ride back home and the crowd wanting to meet the band sufficiently large and passionate for me to want to withstand it long enough to engage the band in meaningful discourse about my differences of perception with them, I might have engaged them in that kind of discourse.
But, here's to an otherwise fun evening for raw rocking-save for that screwy, loopy prologue-by guys whom I pray will grow in their understanding of their faith and its interaction with the world. Would I see Showbread again? Sure. Would I want to talk to them if they don't yet understand that living in peace with others in as much as it's possible isn't always going to be so peaceful? Just as surely.
Jamie Lee Rake